You Must Plan Out Your Career Now!

  



All successes begin with a great plan; that’s the purpose of this chapter. Planning isn't difficult, it’s only a series of steps (actions) and milestones (accomplishments).

Once you have answered all the tough questions and done a good SWOT analysis to create a well thought out career plan. The plan should comprise a 10-year plan, broken down into 1-year chunks. The best way to accomplish something important is with a plan that's written and reviewed consistently.

With a plan, you can measure progress to assure you are moving towards your goal. Without a plan, you will have no way to measure this journey, nor an easy way to tell if you are on track or going in the wrong direction.

This plan is for your use only. You can share it with others, but that’s not the purpose. You will control, measure and update it as necessary to achieve all that you desire.

Some companies have formal career planning and employee reviews. This is separate from the planning discussed here, because you need to track your career progress over many years, regardless of the employer.

Quarterly, Annual Reviews and Updates

Once you develop and put in place a career plan, schedule time throughout the year to update and measure your progress. Appointments are 1 hour for a quarterly review and 2 hours for the annual review.

Set up appointments in your personal calendar (like a Google Calendar) not your work calendar (like your company's Outlook). Make these appointments automatically. That way you create only 4 appointments: March 15 (quarterly review), June 15 (quarterly review), September 15 (quarterly review) and December 15 (annual review), that repeat for the next 10 years.

Quarterly Review

At the quarterly review, look at your plan and determine if you have completed the correct percentage of each of the planned tasks. For example, if it is March 15, and you have scheduled one year for a specific training, you should be 25 percent complete with that training.

It’s okay if you don't have every task completed up to the scheduled amount. The important thing here is to raise your awareness of what progress you have made towards this year's plan and what’s left to accomplish for the year. This review can also get you back on track if you’ve off track.

After you have gone through the list of actions for the quarter, the review is done until the next quarter.

Annual Review

The annual or end of the year review is an opportunity to look over the progress you have made in the past year. Planning and execution is hard work. Celebrate all your past year’s successes.

Identify tasks not completed and discern the worth of these tasks. If these tasks are still worthwhile, schedule those in next year’s plan. If these tasks are now not worthwhile or relevant, make a note stating what you accomplished towards this task and why you have discontinued it.

Each year you can review not only the current year's accomplishments, but the prior year’s. By reviewing your progress, you will see trends. Compare one year to another and to gain insights about other things you need to learn to increase your skill set.

Look at what needs to be accomplished in the following year towards completion of the 10-year plan (again another 1-year chunk of the plan).

After you have charted out next year’s plan, put it aside for a day or two to give yourself time to think about it. Updated it when you are ready. Then work that plan!

Understand Professional Career Tracks

There are two types of roles in any company or organization: Individual Contributor and Management.

Individual Contributor (IC)

The Individual Contributor (IC) is a specialist that focuses on one job. People in these roles work by themselves or as part of a team, to create some kind of work product. That person does not have to manage or supervise employees, nor manage budgets.

Management

Any time you add the word Manager to a job title it means that a person may have to manage people, processes, budgets and/or other things in the work environment. Management isn't for everyone. A Manager usually comes from an Individual Contributor role where she has already been a specialist in an area that's managed by this role. For example, before she became an Information Technology (IT) Manager, first she was a software developer; before she became an Account Manager, she was a Sales Support Specialist.

Promotions and Raises

More and more companies today create pools of Individual Contributors and assign those to a project rather than one department with one Manager. If you decide you don't want to manage people, you can stay an Individual Contributor and progress in your career (with promotions and raises) without having to go into management to get a promotion. Going into management to get promoted is a terrible idea, especially, if you have no management training and are not interested in helping people.

The management question you should ask is: Do I like people enough to spend 70% of my time working on people, relationships and communication issues, and enforcing policies from upper management? If the answer is yes, you might be a good candidate for management. If the answer is no, remain an Individual Contributor.

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